My Observations: National Campus Press Freedom Day Signed Into Law Making July 25 A Declared Date Of Observation

July 25 of every year will mark the observation of National Campus Press Freedom Day in all educational institutions.

This is the result of Republic Act Number 11440 (National Campus Press Freedom Day Act) that was signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte on August 28 and it was only yesterday (September 10) that a copy of the document (which includes signatures of Senate President Tito Sotto and then Speaker of the House Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) was released to the media.

“It is hereby declared the policy of the State to promote, protect, and safeguard the constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of expression, speech, and of the press,” the law read.

“As part of media, the campus press is an important institution in promoting and protecting the freedom of the press and the freedom of expression. As a testament to its remarkable contribution in the continued advancement of these freedoms, the State shall, as a matter of policy, promote the observance of July 25 of every year as ‘National Campus Press Freedom Day’,” it added.

Under RA 11440, educational institutions are mandated to provide full support and assistance to the preparation of the annual program of activities and events to be conducted by students in observance of National Campus Press Freedom Day.

It remains to be seen, however, if the campus press (specifically the news publishing divisions) of academic institutions nationwide would warmly embrace RA 11440.

Another thing to point out is whether or not National Campus Press Freedom Day will add anything at all on inspiring student writers to learn better and improve their craft before graduating and searching for writing-related jobs.

On face value, the campus press is supposed to help students develop their skills in writing news, features and opinions, as well as verifying the facts. Such orientation is supposed to help these future professional writers find the right companies (that offer writing posts) for jobs from the national-level press right down to the local communities.

If you – the reader – are one of those aspiring to work professionally as writers in the near future, be aware that there are some local community publications around that prefer to publish propaganda (self-serving and promotional in nature) instead of practicing real journalism. The good news here is that there are lots of writing-related jobs offered by companies (including those founded by foreign investors) here in the Philippines that focus more on marketing, SEO (search engine optimization), client-specific documentation and other types of writing jobs that are different from journalism and propaganda.

You really want to work as a professional writer with a competitive salary and attractive benefits? Search for jobs in the corporate sector and the national-level media outlets.

In today’s world of social media and widespread wireless access to the Internet (with multiple Wi-Fi spots present nationwide combined with more Filipinos acquiring smartphones), accessing news online is gradually becoming the more preferred way for people looking for news. Going back to National Campus Press Freedom Day, we will find out soon enough if it will help improve the standards of students aspiring to be writers and news searchers.


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A Look Back at Fantastic Four #275

Back in the mid-1980s, the Marvel Comics universe had revisions as a result of the best-selling series Secret Wars. As a result of that series, Spider-Man went home with the alien costume or symbiote (read: Venom), Colossus’ feelings for Kitty Pryde weakened and the Thing decided not to go home yet with the Fantastic Four.

This resulted a temporary change in the lineup of the Fantastic Four. To make up for the loss (and strength) of the Thing, She-Hulk came in as the replacement. Reflecting this particular change, here is my retro review of Fantastic Four #275.

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The cover.

Released in 1985 with a story written and drawn by the legendary John Byrne, Fantastic Four #275 begins when a sun-bathing She-Hulk got photographed by a man riding a helicopter flying at the top of the Baxter Building in New York. The sheer force of air from the helicopter’s blades temporarily causes She-Hulk’s cover to loosen which exposes her body to the photographer.

“Here I was all braced for a super-baddie, and I end up getting photographed deshabillee by an airborne peeping-tom,” She-Hulk said during the encounter.

The green-skinned lady then decides to take a huge risk by leaping off the building and grab on to the helicopter.

While this is indeed a Fantastic Four comic book, it is very focused on She-Hulk. There is a short scene about Johnny Storm as well as an epilogue at the end of the comic book showing Reed and Sue Richards however.

In terms of storytelling, John Byrne did not tell the usual good-versus-evil story rather he focused more on how being a superhero can be challenging when it comes to personal privacy. This was emphasized through She-Hulk who became the object of a magazine whose editor-in-chief views her as a public figure and that puts her in the public domain along with other famous public figures whose faces and even their private lives got exposed to the masses.

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From page 11.

If you are looking for superhero action, you won’t find much. There are some incidental forms of action in the form of collateral damage as She-Hulk crashes through walls.

Overall, Fantastic Four #275 is a fun read and its focus on how the print media treats superheroes viewed as public figures is a nice break from the typical good-versus-evil type of story. No clear villain here. Just the She-Hulk dealing with a magazine that violated her privacy.

Fantastic Four #275 is recommended.

 

When Superheroes, Politicians and Corporate Media Conspire Together

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In this age of social media and smartphones, watching cable TV news feeds is quite toxic to the mind. It’s not about the ultra-heavy mix of information being dumped by corporate media giants that overwhelm the senses of millions of viewers worldwide. Rather it is about corporate media’s slant on political news and world events that add chaos to the already chaotic world we live in.

Look at MSNBC and Fox News on how they cater to the many millions of Americans divided in the political spectrum. For the most part, MSNBC favored the so-called liberals and the political left while Fox News consistently favored the so-called conservatives and political right. If there is such a thing as the military-industrial complex, then there is also the political parties-corporate media complex.

The funny thing about politically slanted corporate media is that they (the news makers) turn journalism into a commodity, select the facts to be presented to the viewers and eventually find ways to manipulate people’s perception. Meanwhile the viewers who have their respective political ideologies or interests tend to pick a favorite corporate media giant for their daily news. Also corporate media giants know fully well that there are many millions of political news junkies who cannot help but be obsessed and addicted to biased political coverage.

Also behind the scenes, it is very likely that top officials of the existing major political parties (Republicans and Democrats) have discreetly communicated with the top executives of the corporate media giants who in turn made deals with their clients (advertisers) to generate money together as they manipulate people into supporting corporate media’s business model.

I myself am a small press journalist who went around the many BF Homes communities and the cities of Muntinlupa, Las Pinas and Paranaque. I pay close attention to the behaviors of corporate media journalists. Learning from them, I certainly do not want to turn journalism into a commodity nor do I want to report news about useless causes like Catholic parish fiestas. I certainly don’t like ignorance to be the driving factor of news reporting. To be ignorant about what’s going on, who is who, where is where and how things happened is just wrong. Be warned that from the small press to the giant media, there are even news editors who are ignorant and work without really knowing what to do which makes published news reports less journalistic and even misleading for the public. Look at your local community newspaper, the regional paper, the national paper and tell me if you see any headline story that does not deserve the headline.

Don’t forget that there are still other publications other there that serve as propaganda machines whose organizers believe that people are too stupid or too ignorant to see through their manipulation and misinformation tactics.

Anyway since I already mentioned political news bias of corporate media giants, it’s time we take a close look at a particular scene in UltraForce #2 published in 1994 by Malibu Comics under the Ultraverse line.

UltraForce #2
The comic book opened with UltraForce (Hardcase, Prime, Prototype, Contrary, Pixx, Ghoul and Topaz) in the Oval Office meeting with fictional portrayals of United States President Bill Clinton, Senator Bob Dole, UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali and the representative of the press.

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Hardcase negotiates with Clinton over a number of matters. UltraForce will help deal with the ongoing conflict overseas with the world “backing up” for them. Contrary says that their team wants to have access to the federal government’s gathered information on ultras (their term describing super humans in the Ultraverse) which irked Bob Dole to express his opposition and tells Clinton that he will “skin” him alive in the media if he agrees to UltraForce’s proposal.

As the difficult agreement came close to being finalized, Hardcase made clear that his team needs the media to reshape public perception of them (and ultras in general) from negative to positive. Unsurprisingly the media representative objected to Hardcase’s idea as it is tantamount to propaganda (or biased media coverage).

Hardcase answered back mentioning that he is an actor in Hollywood and he already knows what it takes to make people feel good or bad about something by means of being selective of the facts for public consumption. He insists that people should start feeling good about them.

The media representative stated that a bipartisan consensus was all it takes for journalists to accept it.

Then Bill Clinton and Bob Dole shake hands which is ironic because in real life history, both men were nominated by their respective political parties for the US Presidency in 1996. Clinton got re-elected then.

My analysis

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The scene, even though it is outlandish in concept, shows clearly that political forces and the giant media have what it takes to manipulate public perception by working together. Of course what reality shows us is that in America, Republicans have Fox News and Democrats have MSNBC to rely on to execute their information manipulation strategies to gain supporters for their own causes.

In the case of UltraForce, it’s about a team of superheroes who need a lot of support from governments and the media in order to be able to resolve the overseas conflict in the story. Their enemy was simply too powerful and too resourceful to defeat so UltraForce played hard-ball with the government and the media.

With regards to biased media coverage in support of UltraForce and ultras that exist in the world of the Ultraverse, it shows that superpowers alone cannot help those who wield it. Without the government and media support, UltraForce will only be perceived by the public as a group of troublemakers (or maybe even as terrorists) even though they fight an obviously evil force that’s been destabilizing the world.

As such, the biased media coverage for UltraForce is what I would call as a morally questionable form of support. On face value, it looks sensible because UltraForce is composed of supposed good guys while their enemies are so destructive and disruptive they are easily perceived as evil. But behind the scenes, supportive biased media coverage for UltraForce kills the spirit of balanced journalism and is pretty much a form of propaganda no matter how good the intentions are.

Could you imagine a special forces team fabricate a situation which would result a tragedy followed by intense coverage by the corporate media which in turn will outrage members of the public and give the administration of the national government the justification to launch a war with superheroes leading the way? Such a situation could lead to even more chaos in this world we live in.

Also Hardcase said it best: Look, I’m an actor in Hollywood. I know this game. I know how you can pick and choose facts to make people feel good or bad about something.

Thank you for reading. If you know someone who is very interested in superheroes or journalism, please kindly share this article with them. Also feel free to comment below.

Author’s Note: This article was originally published at my old Geeks and Villagers blog. What you read on this website was an updated and expanded version. In other words, this newest version you just read is the most definitive version